Jaime Harrison
Chair of the Democratic National Committee
Assumed office
January 21, 2021
Vice ChairsGretchen Whitmer
Tammy Duckworth
Ken Martin
Henry R. Muñoz III
Preceded byTom Perez
Chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party
In office
May 4, 2013 – April 29, 2017
Preceded byDick Harpootlian
Succeeded byTrav Robertson
Personal details
Born (1976-02-05) February 5, 1976 (age 48)
Orangeburg, South Carolina, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseMarie Boyd
EducationYale University (BA)
Georgetown University (JD)
WebsiteCampaign website

Jaime R. Harrison (/ˈmi/ JAY-mee; born February 5, 1976) is an American attorney and politician who is the chair of the Democratic National Committee. He previously served as the chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party from 2013 to 2017. Harrison unsuccessfully ran against incumbent senator Lindsey Graham for the South Carolina U.S. Senate seat in the 2020 election.[1][2]

Early life and education

Harrison was born and raised in Orangeburg, South Carolina.[3] He was raised by his mother, Patricia Harrison, and his grandparents.[4] He attended a Baptist church in his youth.[5] In 1994, he was selected for the United States Senate Youth Program. He attended Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School[6][3] and received a scholarship to Yale University, where he majored in political science.[4][3]

After graduating from Yale in 1998, Harrison worked as a teacher for a year at his former high school.[6] In 1999, he was appointed chief operating officer of College Summit, a non-profit organization that helps low-income youth find a path to college and a career.[7][8] He earned his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center in 2004.[9]


After leaving College Summit, Harrison became involved in politics, working for Jim Clyburn as his director of floor operations while Clyburn was the Majority Whip of the United States House of Representatives.[10] Harrison went on to serve as executive director of the House Democratic Caucus and the vice chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party.[9] He later served as a lobbyist for the Podesta Group.[4][11] His clients at the Podesta Group included banks, such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, Berkshire Hathaway,[12] pharmaceutical companies,[13] casinos, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, and Walmart,[14] among others.[15] In addition to lobbying work at Podesta Group, he has also lobbied on behalf of United Way Worldwide and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.[6]

In May 2013, Harrison became the chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party. He is the first African American to have served in this role.[4][16]

Democratic National Committee

2017 candidacy for Chair

Harrison declared his candidacy for chairperson of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the February 2017 election.[17][18] He defended his eight-year record at the Podesta Group, saying, "It's how I pay back the $160,000 of student loan debt."[19] Harrison ended his bid for DNC chair on February 23, 2017, and endorsed Tom Perez.[20]

Harrison accepted a position as associate chairman and counselor of the DNC, where he implemented a program called "Every ZIP Code Counts." The program supplied each state party with $10,000 per month so long as the state party did an analysis of its strengths and weaknesses for its internal operations.[21]

2021 election as Chair

Following President Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election, Harrison was nominated by Biden to be the chair of the DNC, succeeding Tom Perez.[22] DNC members elected him on January 21, 2021.[23]

2020 U.S. Senate election

Main article: 2020 United States Senate election in South Carolina

Harrison filed paperwork on February 7, 2019, to challenge Senator Lindsey Graham by running for his seat in the U.S. Senate in the 2020 election. No Democrat has won a statewide election in South Carolina since 2006.[24] Harrison launched his campaign on May 29, 2019.[2] Economist and Democrat Gloria Bromell Tinubu announced her run for the seat in May of 2019. In January 2020, Tinubu dropped out of the race, endorsing Harrison.[25] With Harrison unopposed, the Democratic primary for US Senate was cancelled, and he became the Democratic nominee on June 9, 2020.[26]

Harrison and Graham participated in a debate with no audience (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) that was hosted by Allen University on October 3, 2020.[27] A debate originally scheduled for October 9 was changed to feature separate, televised interviews after Graham refused to be tested for COVID-19 preceding the scheduled debate.[28]

In the third quarter of 2020, Harrison raised $57 million, the largest quarterly total by a U.S. Senate candidate ever, breaking Beto O'Rourke's record in the 2018 Texas Senate election.[29] He also raised the most ever by a U.S. Senate candidate, beating another record set by O'Rourke.[30]

Harrison called for expansion of Medicaid[3] and expanded coronavirus relief.[3] During the 2020 Senate election, Harrison criticized Graham for attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act.[31] Harrison also supports the legalization of cannabis.[32]

Harrison lost the election to Graham by over ten percentage points, garnering 44.2% of the vote compared to Graham's 54.5%.[33] The day after the election, Niall Stanage of The Hill stated that Harrison ran a spirited challenge but in the end, Graham "prevailed easily".[34]

Harrison broke U.S. Senate campaign fundraising records by raising $109 million.[35][36][37][38][39]

Electoral history

2020 United States Senate election in South Carolina
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Lindsey Graham (incumbent) 1,369,137 54.44% +0.17%
Democratic Jaime Harrison 1,110,828 44.17% +5.39%
Constitution Bill Bledsoe 32,845 1.30% N/A
Write-in 2,294 0.09% -0.29%
Total votes 2,515,104 100.00%
Republican hold Swing

Personal life

Despite their political rivalry, Harrison is friends with Matt Moore, a former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. The two co-taught a course at the University of South Carolina during the fall semester of 2015.[40]

Harrison met his wife, Marie Boyd, when they worked in Washington, D.C., shortly after the 2008 United States presidential election. She is a law professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law.[41] They live in Columbia, South Carolina with their two sons.[10][42]


  1. ^ Lovegrove, Jamie (February 7, 2019). "Former SC Democratic leader moves closer to challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham in 2020". Palmetto Politics. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Barton, Tom (May 25, 2019). "SC Democrat Jaime Harrison launches US Senate campaign to challenge Lindsey Graham". The State. Retrieved November 14, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e Harris, Adam (May 29, 2020). "Can Lindsey Graham Be Beat?". The Atlantic. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Behre, Robert (May 3, 2013). "Harrison expected to lead Dems". Post and Courier. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  5. ^ Jenkins, Jack (October 30, 2020). "Jaime Harrison's pragmatic faith and record funding have lifted a liberal contender in South Carolina". Religion News Service. Retrieved November 14, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c Tant, Lee (May 1, 2010). "D.C. lobbyist, former teacher stops by alma mater to encourage students". The Times and Democrat. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  7. ^ "LCV Action Fund Endorses Jaime Harrison for Senate". League of Conservation Voters. lcv.org (press release). December 17, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  8. ^ Touchberry, Ramsey (October 3, 2019). "Who Is Jaime Harrison? Meet Lindsey Graham's Challenger Who Just Raised $2.1 Million". Newsweek. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  9. ^ a b Martin, Jonathan (February 11, 2013). "Ex-Clyburn aide seeks S.C. Dem chair". Politico. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Hendren, Lee (February 12, 2013). "Orangeburg native seeks chairmanship of S.C. Democrats". The Times and Democrat. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  11. ^ "Harrison, Jaime R: Lobbyist Profile, 2009". Open Secrets.
  12. ^ "Lobbying Spending Database Harrison, Jaime R, 2010". Open Secrets. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  13. ^ "Lobbying Spending Database Harrison, Jaime R, 2012". Open Secrets. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  14. ^ "LD-2 Disclosure Form". soprweb.senate.gov. Archived from the original on May 1, 2017. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  15. ^ "LD-2 Disclosure Form". soprweb.senate.gov. Archived from the original on October 11, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  16. ^ "Harrison is voted new chairman of SC Democrats". The Times and Democrat. May 5, 2013. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  17. ^ Wilks, Avery G. (October 21, 2016). "SC Democrats' Harrison a frontrunner for DNC chair?". The State. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  18. ^ Coyne, Amanda (November 15, 2016). "SC Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison running for DNC chair". The Greenville News. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  19. ^ Dumain, Emma (November 14, 2016). "S.C. Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison launches bid to run DNC". The Post And Courier. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  20. ^ Kujawa, Dawn (February 23, 2017). "SC's Harrison drops bid for DNC chair". The State. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  21. ^ Dumain, Emma (November 6, 2017). "Jaime Harrison knows how Democrats can win elections. Are Democrats listening?". The News & Observer. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  22. ^ Otterbein, Holly; Cadelago, Christopher; Korecki, Natasha (January 14, 2021). "Harrison selected as Biden's DNC chair". Politico. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  23. ^ Merica, Dan (January 21, 2021). "Jaime Harrison officially elected Democratic National Committee chair". CNN. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
  24. ^ Dumain, Emma (February 7, 2019). "Jaime Harrison takes first official step to challenge Lindsey Graham for U.S. Senate". McClatchy. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  25. ^ Glantz, Tracy (January 15, 2020). ""Gloria Tinubu bows out, supports Jaime Harrison for U.S. Senate seat"". The State Newspaper. Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  26. ^ Lovegrove, Jamie (June 9, 2020). "Lindsey Graham wins SC GOP primary, will face Democrat Jaime Harrison in November". Post and Courier. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  27. ^ Arkin, James (October 3, 2020). "Graham, Harrison spar over SCOTUS and Covid-19 in fiery Senate debate". Politico. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  28. ^ Arkin, James (October 9, 2020). "South Carolina US Senate debate changes format after Lindsey Graham refuses to take Covid-19 test". CNN. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  29. ^ Arkin, James (October 11, 2020). "Jaime Harrison shatters Senate fundraising record for South Carolina race". Politico. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  30. ^ "Jaime Harrison sets Senate fundraising record in race against Lindsey Graham". The Guardian. October 11, 2020. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  31. ^ McCausland, Phil (February 29, 2020). "Health care sways South Carolina voters with medical debt and no insurance". NBC News. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  32. ^ Angell, Tom (July 16, 2020). "Lindsey Graham Challenger Jaime Harrison Backs Legalizing Marijuana". Marijuana Moment. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  33. ^ Desiderio, Andrew (November 3, 2020). "Graham fends off Harrison in South Carolina Senate race". Politico. Retrieved November 14, 2022.
  34. ^ Stanage, Niall (November 4, 2020). "Winners and losers from 2020's election". The Hill. Washington, DC. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
  35. ^ Morgan, David (November 7, 2020). "For Senate Democrats, campaign money couldn't buy happiness". Reuters. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  36. ^ Touchberry, Ramsey (November 2, 2020). "If Jaime Harrison loses to Lindsey Graham, it will be the most expensive Senate race defeat in U.S. history". Newsweek. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
  37. ^ Connolly, Griffin (November 4, 2020). "Lindsey Graham wins in South Carolina — the most expensive Senate race in history". The Independent. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
  38. ^ Tindera, Michela (November 2, 2020). "Here Are The Billionaires Spending Big To Keep Lindsey Graham In The Senate". Forbes. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
  39. ^ Hughes, Siobhan; Wise, Lindsay (November 2, 2020). "Control of U.S. Senate Centers Around a Handful of GOP-Held Seats". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
  40. ^ Landers, Elizabeth; Williams, Brenna (February 18, 2016). "Odd Couple: How a Republican and a Democrat became friends in South Carolina". CNN. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  41. ^ Uwumarogie, Victoria (September 28, 2021). "DNC Chair Jaime Harrison and Wife Marie Boyd on Their Love Story and Their Work to Protect Voting Rights". Essence. Retrieved November 14, 2022.
  42. ^ "Marie C. Boyd – School of Law". University of South Carolina. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
Party political offices Preceded byDick Harpootlian Chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party 2013–2017 Succeeded byTrav Robertson Preceded byBrad Hutto Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from South Carolina(Class 2) 2020 Most recent Preceded byTom Perez Chair of the Democratic National Committee 2021–present Incumbent